Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A History of Running & Weights

My first deliberate attempts at fitness were all about strength training. I got a circuit workout from an issue of Cooking Light, bought some dumbbells, if I remember correctly I even made a weight bench from cement blocks and a board (like the bookshelf concept). This was in high school and the interest stemmed from PE class freshman year. Even though I thought the concept in class was stupid, and even unhealthy for the majority of students - it was all about maxing out on a few lifts - for some reason I did like the idea of lifting weights. I added cardio via exercise videos, mostly aerobic dance and kickboxing.

I also sporadically ran. I remember one year running a couple times with my friend Ashley, but we usually ended getting food at Arby's, so the net result wasn't the healthiest. At one point my best friend Elizabeth and I were trying to exercise together, and after doing one of my regular kickboxing workouts, she decided I would be capable of running 5 miles (she did cross country, so 5 miles would be no big deal for her). I honestly can't remember if I actually ran the entire thing or if we stopped to walk, but I do remember being very impressed with myself. 

I kept running sporadically through college and after, definitely no more than a couple miles at a time. And always plenty of walking breaks. Then one year at work, running was the thing to do. Everyone was running. I'm not sure of the exact order of events, but eventually my friend Dim and I completed the Couch to 5k program, and I also did a lot of running with Melanie. I did my first 5k race in September 2010 (Portland Race for the Cure). I was exceptionally proud of it because I ran the entire thing without any walking breaks!

Then some more of the sporadic running; I did another 5k that March, and another in May. At the Race for the Animals I met Karey. She had started running about the same time I did, and I was impressed that she was doing the 10k that day. I think it was around that same time that I started reading healthy living blogs, such as Healthy Tipping Point. Reading about healthy food and marathon training normalized such behavior, and I started thinking... maybe I could do that. 

So when I saw Karey's post on facebook that she was running the Hippie Chick half marathon - I decided to give it a try! My longest run in my life was still that 5 miles with Elizabeth; in recent times my max was 5k (3.1 miles, for any nonrunners reading along). I looked up training plans, but didn't specifically follow one; I just kept gradually increasing mileage, but only got up to 8 miles before the race. Despite being somewhat undertrained, I thoroughly enjoyed it (thanks to Jolene, who paced most of it with me - she was holding herself back to avoid aggravating a knee injury; Jo holding back = me giving all I had) and felt greatly accomplished!

Prior to the half, I had been experimenting with barefoot running shoes; several weeks before the race I switched to only conventional shoes, so I'd be feel more comfortable running distance in the shoes I'd actually run the race, but afterwards I switched to only running with barefoot shoes. Since I knew I needed to let my body adapt to the lack of cushion, I didn't think I'd be ready for the Foot Traffic Flat half marathon that Karey, Jo, and Beth were doing on the Fourth of July. And, no, I wasn't ready! My longest distance in barefoot shoes was 6 miles. But I realized how much I needed a goal to make myself run as much as I really wanted to, so I signed up for it anyways. 

In the two and a half weeks since then, my feet have gradually returned to not-hurting. The last couple miles of the half, my feet hurt like crazy, and I was thinking I had done some serious damage to them. My left foot in particular seemed to have symptoms of plantar fasciitis. I've been taking it easy, not running more than 2 or 3 miles at a time (but still only using barefoot shoes), and now I barely feel a twinge when my muscles are tight first thing in the morning or after sitting for a long time, and during running it feels just fine. 

So, anyways, back to the topic of bootcamp... in the last few years I've focused my fitness energy on running. I don't regret it; I'm really proud of what I've accomplished. However, in the meantime I've let strength training go by the wayside. In reflecting on my running, I realized that I need someone to tell me what to do. As much as I enjoy running, I'm pretty lazy. When I just ran on my own, knowing I'd walk when I get tired of running, I'd walk far too often, and for far too long. It wasn't until I did C25k and had a program telling me to run for 90 seconds at a time did I actually feel capable - realize I was already capable - of running 90 seconds at a time. And that became 40 minutes at a time! 

Running is very much a mental sport. Your body is capable of SOOOOO much more than you brain lets it believe. Half-hearted attempts at the 100 pushup challenge or getting back to my Cooking Light circuit training showed me that the same concept would greatly help me get back into an overall fitness program. After reading on This Runner's Trials about an online bootcamp, I headed over to the trainer Tina Reale's website, and luckily she was just starting a new session of Best Body Bootcamp!

I hope taking part in this 8-week training plan will:
  1. Force me to do what I want to do but am generally too lazy to make myself do.
  2. Remind me of the fun I used to have in more fitness activities.
  3. Get me on track to lose weight. (I'm officially obese - my BMI is 31.24. Losing 7 pounds would get it below 30 and into the merely "overweight" category.)
  4. Prepare me to train for a marathon in 2013 and for a triathlon in 2014.
  5. Establish good exercise habits for mental health, to diminish recurrences of depression and anxiety.

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